Health care

Health care professionals working in the area of palliative care have unparalleled experience in caring for the dying. Therefore, we should take note when palliative care physicians reject euthanasia and physician assisted suicide as contrary to their work and sound medical practice.

In a piece for the Medical Journal of Australia, a group of palliative care physicians outlined their opposition to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide and wrote, “Good palliative care helps patients and families avoid both overtreatment and neglect of treatment. It enhances patient autonomy and decision-making capacity by improving symptom control and empowering patients to participate in their care. It is illogical and immoral to even consider euthanasia legislation before ensuring there is universal access to palliative care.”

Furthermore they write, "From our experience of caring for people who are ill and vulnerable, legalising EPAS [euthanasia and physician assisted suicide] is unnecessary and unsafe."
In the lead up to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill being debated by the Victorian Parliament, 101 Victorian oncologists (including 21 associate professors and professors of medicine) from 20 hospitals across Victoria called on the Victorian Parliament to reject the bill. Read their letter to MPs here.
A further 650+ Australian doctors signed a petition declaring, "We endorse the views of the World Medical Association that physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are unethical, even if made legal. We endorse the Australian Medical Association position that 'doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.' We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to suicide would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship, which is based on trust and respect."
Three past presidents of the Australian Medical Association also urged Victorian MPs to reject the bill, speaking about the dangers of the proposed legislation: "The answer lies in better end-of-life care for the dying, not the provision of a lethal medication which cannot be made safe, despite the so-called safeguards".

For responses by individual health care providers see:

Professor David Kissane (a palliative care physician and psychiatrist) outlines his concerns for vulnerable members of society if euthanasia and physician assisted suicide were legal.

A/Prof Natasha Michael (Director of Palliative Medicine at Cabrini Health) recently spoke about how palliative care is the point of difference in the euthanasia debate.


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